If you happen to find yourself traveling through the “Crossroads of America” this summer, then here’s my opinion on the best courses you can play. Indiana has some great historic tracks, and some hidden gems that many haven’t heard about. It’s not my list of favorites, and some of the courses may be obvious answers, but these are the best I believe we as a state have to offer.
- Victoria National (Private) Newburgh, IN– currently ranked No. 43 in the Golf Digest Top 100, “Vic Nasty” is worth the experience and Indiana’s best. A truly difficult test of golf, that will test every club, shot, and shape that you have in the bag. The current location of the Web.com Tour finals.
- The Pete Dye Course at French Lick (Private) French Lick, IN– not the cheapest option in Indiana, but you’ve probably never seen a Pete Dye design like this before. Sitting on top of a mountain, there are views for 40 miles, and some of the most oddly shaped bunkers you’ve ever seen. Step back to the tips and play it at its max 8100 yards. I have, and it wasn’t pretty.
- Crooked Stick Golf Club (Private) Carmel, IN– Maybe the most well-known course in Indiana, for its championship past. Why not try and get a round in where the legends have played? Classic Pete Dye with red covered bridges, and wood railroad ties in the prestigious Carmel community.
- Sycamore Hills Golf Club (Private) Fort Wayne, IN– the Jack Nicklaus design is often referred to as “Little Muirfield”, with all the great characteristics of a classic Nicklaus design. Lush, thick rough with skinny greens, and demanding second shots. I may be impartial, but one of Indiana’s best play from holes 1 to 18.
- Culver Military Academy Course (Private) Culver, IN– sitting along the beautiful Lake Maxinkuckee and historic Culver Military Academy, is this Langford & Moureau redesign that ranks No.2 in the US for campus courses. Recently restored by Bobby Weed and his team, this 9-hole facility is more than worth the stop.
- Woodland Country Club (Private) Carmel, IN– Indiana’s hidden gem. A Pete Dye masterpiece in the middle of Carmel, IN. Not as publicized as the other surrounding Indianapolis courses, but Woodland is ALL THAT.
- South Bend Country Club (Private) South Bend, IN– SBCC has a rich tradition. A former stop for the Western Open, as greats like Byron Nelson have made their rounds around the country club. One of the classic designs Indiana has to offer, with a variety of different hole designs and shape to challenge your game. No chance you’ll get through a round without a train going by on #13!
- Birck Boilermaker Kampen/Ackerman Courses (Public) West Lafayette, IN– most definitely the best spot in Indiana with more than one course. Kampen course is revered as one of the best in Indiana, and the newly redesigned Ackerman course holds its own with any place. A must experience for golf in Indiana. Purdue is destined to bring the NCAA Golf Championships back to West Lafayette.
- Purgatory Golf Club (Public) Noblesville, IN– If you get a windy day, then Purgatory could easily be Indiana’s toughest test of golf. The links style layout can stretch back to 7800 yards, and is lined with thick heather. 130+ bunkers on the course, and hole #17 has over 2 acres of them!
- The Warren Course at Notre Dame (Publlic) South Bend, IN– To be honest, many Indiana natives were shocked to hear a US Senior Open was headed to Warren. Not necessarily the toughest test in golf, but the Coore & Crenshaw design, is world class facility that sits in the background of Notre Dame’s Golden Dome. Excited to see the setup for the upcoming US Senior Open.
- The Sagamore Club (Private) Noblesville, IN– a Jack Nicklaus gem weaving through the housing editions of Noblesville. A truly pure track that has also played home to a NCAA Regional and DIII national championships.
- Fort Wayne Country Club (Private) Fort Wayne, IN– If you like small, fast greens then FWCC is right up your alley. Known for some of the best greens around, and one of northern Indiana’s premier country club experiences.
- Orchard Ridge Country Club (Private) Fort Wayne, IN– an Arthur Hills redesign of the 90’s, Orchard Ridge is one of the less talked about gems of the north, with fast greens and great architecture. Pray you don’t catch these greens on a day the superintendent is pissed off.
- Tippecanoe Lake Country Club (Private) Leesburg, IN– If you love the short, tight country club courses, then this one you’ll never forget. Tippy Lake is only 5900 yards, but it’ll give you all it’s worth. Known for some of the fastest greens in the state during the summer days. Don’t step on that first tee thinking it’s going to be an easy one!
- Sultan’s Run (Public) Jasper, IN– One of the best in the south, with one of the best finishing holes in the state of Indiana. An amphitheater of rock waterfalls surrounding the 18thgreen, with the clubhouse looming on the hill will make this stop one to remember.
- Brickyard Crossing (Public) Indianapolis, IN– One of the most unique golf courses in the world. Holes 7-10 sit inside of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where you might even catch some cars doing test laps at 200+ mph. If you’re a fan of racing and golf, then this experience is a must for you.
If you noticed the trend, some of Indiana’s finest courses are the short and tight country clubs. I don’t know if it’s largely how Indiana golf started, or was modeled after, but just about every major town has a sneaky good country club course. I may be biased to some of the places I listed, but I truly believe that those are the best tracks Indiana has to offer. Indiana has a great history in world class golf architecture, so if you’re passing through Indiana, then I’m sure none of these places will disappoint.